IPR Recovers Attorney’s Fees Following Its FOIA Victory Against the District of Columbia

Way back in 2009, IPR filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the District of Columbia on behalf of its client, Friends of McMillan Park (FMP). FMP opposes the District’s effort to convert McMillan Park – currently an open green space and the site of a historic water filtration system – into a private mixed-use development. They advocate for, at a minimum, preservation of publicly accessible green space at McMillan. IPR’s FOIA request sought documents and communications from the District that relate to the planned development.

When the District refused to supply documents in response to IPR’s request, IPR filed suit, beginning what became a protracted litigation. Over three years of motions practice, the presiding judge gave the District several opportunities to produce either documents responsive to IPR’s requests or a legally valid explanation for why those documents should be withheld. The District produced a fraction of what was sought, along with deficient explanations of why others should be withheld. Finally, in August of 2013, the judge reviewed the remaining disputed documents in camera and ordered the District to produce over 80 percent of what IPR initially sought. (Click here to access the judge’s order to that effect.)

IPR began working on a petition in September of 2013 to recover the fees and costs available to it as a prevailing party under the DC Freedom of Information Act. Before IPR filed that petition, however, the parties entered into settlement talks and ultimately agreed that the District would pay IPR $58,500 to resolve the matter. (Click here to access the executed settlement agreement.)

As this Washington Post article describes, plans for McMillan Park’s development have continued to pass regulatory hurdles, albeit slowly.

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